Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Dancing While Juggling

I stole this title from another article I wrote about finding a sense of balance in your life when you have lots on the go. 'Having lots of balls in the air' is a common expression you hear, but to me, it has an underlying anxiety to it, as at any time, one of the those balls might drop. So, when I hear than someone is juggling career, parenting, and a passion for training for the marathon or Ironman, it sounds like they are stretched, hopping from one activity to the other without a pause for breath. Determined to keep all the balls afloat no matter what. But oops! They are forgetting to breathe! The focus on keeping all those balls up, means the thought pattern is: better not drop one!

Wouldn't it be great if we could keep all those balls up there, and be thinking only: Isn't this awesome; I love the way these balls keep spinning around!

So I wrote the orginal article, pointing out how, with a few strategies and insights about yourself, it was possible to feeling like you are dancing with your passions, gracefully and energetically, and fully present to the moment. So that when you need to train, your gear is ready, you have a plan to follow, and you are free to enjoy all the moments you are training. When you are with your kids or loved ones, you are fully present with them, giving them the attention and authentic love that they need.

There are times when I really have felt that my life is a dance, usually something like Swing, and occasionally hip hop. I feel organized and on top of things like childcare and schedules, training and racing goals. But here's the reality. Everything is always changing (including my hormones) and I'll be honest that occasionally, it all feels nuts. Something happens and the dancing gets into a kind of crazy tempo, and suddenly I am juggling it all again, desperately trying to keep all the balls in the air. I know that motherhood requires juggling...the soccer, the lunches, the play-dates, the homework, quality time for self and others...but throw training goals in there, and it's a tough dance to master.

I don't know about you, but I don't like feeling maxxed out. I like having a full life, and I will always have passions like triathlon that I want to experience at a high level, but I'm not crazy about stress or anxiety. Anxiety is the little inner voice, always full of drama, that wants some attention. As soon as you wobble on one of those balls, it sees the opportunity to pounce. "HA!" It says, "You might drop that!"

So, what I have found in this imperfectly perfect path that is life, is that sometimes I will feel like I am juggling. One of the kids gets sick, or I lose a valuable babysitter so have less time to train. Maybe it's a ball that changes: an injury that throws me off my plans and mission for a while. when the tempo of the dance changes, I work on accepting the new dance. Anf guess what? The new dance is a good one too!

I have discovered that I can juggle and still carry on the dance, and that is progress!


Monday, March 10, 2008

winning a $1, 000 000 at the Sole Sister's Clinic

Heading out with a Smile on Your Face!

Lately, I've been doing my rounds of the spring running clinics that are held all over Victoria in preparation for the Times Colonist 10k which is held in late April. I love talking at the clinics and watching people's faces light up with understanding when I talk about pre-race anxiety, or finding time to train, or making the most of what little time you have. The run leaders often ask me to come and 'inspire' their runners, to talk about my life in sport, and how I balance training with 2 kids, but what they don't realize is that I always leave inspired myself, and energized by the runners and their new passion for running. They ask me questions about things I take for granted now...like what cross training to do, or how to find the right shoe, what to eat before a race, or whether to drink water in a 10k.

Last week I visited the 'Sole Sisters', a clinic run by Mena, the Energizer Bunny herself, a woman with a past career in professional figure skating, fitness training and coaching, and a present career in Saanich Recreation, as well as mother of 4 boys (1,4,6 and 8!). I went to Mena's clinic two years ago, in the late stages of pregnancy with Ross. I had a ball at her clinic, and remembered some antics she had dreamed up, getting me to 'win' a race in front of her clinic runners.
I showed up at Colquitz School gym, and witnessed the 'signing in' of 70 participants, and noted that several women were wearing sparkly dollar store tiaras and everybody was smiling or laughing. After a brief (and note: the only) silent moment in the evening, in which Mena sat on a chair and led the women in a relaxation excercise while new age music played on the audio system (yes, this clinic had it's own dj--and musicians, I was to find out later), Mena proceeded to hand out draw prizes to diligent participants. It still wasn't my turn.
Then, the women had to take a pop quiz on terms and running terminology covered in previous weeks. Things like R.I.C.E. and then one that was even new to me: B.R.A. Take a guess. Bounce Reduction Apparatus. I almost fell of the bench laughing! But that's not all. Mena then proceeded to sing a song to the tune of Mama Mia, about the perils of not wearing the right running bra, while performing a crazy skit that required her to wear about 8 layers of ineffective apparatus. By this point, I had fallen off my bench.

OK, then it was my turn, and how could I not have a great time when everybody was already smiling and relaxed. I talked about finding that fun in sport, about using your time wisely and well, about setting goals that are truly meaningful and then surrounding yourself with people who will help make your dreams come alive.

I was reminded of a really powerful message as I finished up my talk Mena's clinic, and that was the power of having a great attitude. That, expecting to have a positive experience is a big part of training and racing. I think that sometimes we wait until the end of the race or training session to feel good about ourselves. Starting out with a smile is just as important.

I watched those women head out of the gym for the training run, laughing and chatting, big smiles on their faces, and I thought to myself: those women get it!
About the music: after I had given my talk, Mena made me put on a number bib (in this case, a baby 'bib') and asked me to run a lap around the gym pretending to win the Times Colonist race so people could see what I do when I win. Always game for a bit of fun, I complied. Soon, I was running around the gym to the music of 'Chariots of Fire' being played on trumpets by two women! After, I 'won' a cheque for a million dollars. If I had a penny for every time this running life has made me smile, I would be a millionaire!